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Homage to Mary Anning

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Today's Google Doodle pays homage to one of the great women in Science, Mary Anning.

Mary Anning homage on Google today.  Image credit: Google Inc.

Google Inc paid homage to the 215 anniversary of the birth of Mary Anning on May 21 2014 with this Doodle on the homepage. Image credit: Google Inc.


Mary Anning (1799-1846) by the age of 12 had already discovered in rocks of the English countryside fossils that she would later describe as a plesiosaur. She spent more than 30 years collecting and describing fossils mostly in rock of Jurassic age. Anning along with William Buckland, who was well aware and an admirer of Mary’s work and described the first true dinosaur, and Cuvier who described and wrote about dinosaurs were instrumental in developing a picture of life in the Jurassic. It eventually lead to Cuvier’s specific proposal that there had been an "age of reptiles.” This was a time when reptiles would have been the dominant animal in all places on earth versus the mammals that we have today. Like the discovery of deep time itself over the previous century this idea of earth’s changing biota over time presented a serious challenge to established views of creation. (Read more here.)

Mary Anning was a British fossil collector and paleontologist who became known for important finds she made in the Jurassic marine fossil beds at Lyme Regis in Dorset, where she lived. Her work contributed to fundamental changes in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth. Mary's work drew considerable attention in England as most people believed in a young Earth and regarded this to be a Biblical view.

Fossil collecting was a popular hobby in the late 18th and early 19th century, but gradually developed into a science as the importance of fossils to geology and biology became better understood. Anning searched for fossils in the area's Blue Lias cliffs, particularly during the winter months when landslides exposed new fossils that had to be collected quickly before they were lost to the sea. It was dangerous work, and she nearly lost her life in 1833 during a landslide.

In 2010, the Royal Society included Anning in a list of the ten British women who have most influenced the history of science.

Mary Anning, though raised Congregationalist, regularly worshiped with her family in the Anglican Church.

Tags:  fossils  Mary Anning 

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